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Saga The Heart's Desire - Monster Challenge

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by GregMcP, Nov 4, 2020.

  1. GregMcP

    GregMcP Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 7, 2015
    This is my contribution to the Monster Challenge

    My theme being The Uncanny
    A little story set on Jedha, a couple of decades after the events of Rogue One.


    (Yes, I should have labelled the the Challenge in the title. Mod is welcome to fix this)
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2020
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  2. GregMcP

    GregMcP Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 7, 2015
    The Heart’s Desire
    Carthillium Memorei Kybericus


    The desert sparkled as we rode through the night.

    Our long legged mounts, Spamels as the old Imperial troops used to call them, also known by the scientific classification of Spamelus Bactium, took long strides across the sands of the Desiccated Tablelands. My back and derriere had finally adjusted to the continuous jolts and lurching, which had caused a good deal of pain in the first days of this expedition. The blood warmth of the beast’s body, the flexing of it’s back and thigh muscles and the dusty smell of its fur were now commonplace to me.

    Ahead of me rode my guide, a local Khazali nomad called Baba Shad. As much as I held the on tight to my saddle for fear of being thrown off, he sat high and confident. His aba, his grey desert robes, flowed around him, fluttering in the wind. They were as much part of his identity as his craggy, sun dried face. This desert dweller, who’s age was impossible to tell, was leading me to see something new and unclassified. “It is a desert flower we call The Hearts Desire. Very beautiful. Very magical. You will see. The Force lives within its petals.”

    Above us as we rode on this cool cloudless night shone a million stars and the pink glow of NaJedha rising in the east. NaJedha was the planet that this moon revolved around, though which was the moon and which was the planet is debatable. Better categorized as binary planets perhaps? I will leave that to the Astrophysicists back at the University to decide. NaJedha’s disk sent a wash of pink and purple light across the desert that reflected off the crystal scattered across the landscape with laserlike zaps of ray in all directions.

    “When I was young the desert was a dark place at night.” our guide had told me, “A place of secret creatures. Secret people. We learned to move without being seen. But when they murdered the City on the Mountain, everything changed. The land awakened.” And these nomads, as much creatures of this land as any other, had begun to transform too. Silver lines with their own gentle glow followed the paths of his veins below the skin of his face and hands.

    As we rode along on our mounts, I watched a long eared canine Vulpus, glittering silver and sparkling of the pink from above, pounce across the sand in front of us, sending splashes of Kyber infused dust into the air. It was probably chasing some native mouse.

    “A Chaedopius Penicillatus Kybericus, I think.” Kybericus. Transformed by the Kyber.

    Red, yellow, orange glowbugs (Photonus… Actually, I do not think we have assigned them a name yet) buzzed about us, attracted to my mount’s sweat. Streaks of multicoloured light flowed behind them as they zipped about. I instinctively swatted at them, which had no effect whatsoever.

    One glowbug decided to buzz just a foot in front of my face. I stared into its tiny emerald green eyes as my hips rocked side to side with the rhythm of my ride. It seemed to stare into mine.

    “I smell your water” the bug seemed to be saying to me. “So tasty”
    As I stared at the bug, a few more flew in as hovered beside it.
    A dozen emerald eyes staring. I could feel their desire to sip at my body sweat and, perhaps if I let them, a little bite and a little blood. It seemed a reasonable request. These little creatures needed to live too. I could roll back my sleeve. The bites wouldn’t hurt at all.

    The shock of sharp pain across my shoulder as I was hit with a riding crop.
    “Mesahbib! Wake up!” old Baba yelled at me. He had ridden up beside me and was waving the brush of his crop at the hundreds of bugs swarming about me.
    “Achk! Don’t listen to these little blood suckers. They lie! Shoo!” he slapped at the bugs on my mounts haunches.

    He pointed his crop at me angrily. “They lie.

    He rode on ahead again and I was determined to stay much more alert.

    The desert at night all around flashed and glittered with colorful life.

    It had been twenty years since the City of NiJedha had been destroyed by the weapon of the Empire and the land for hundreds of miles across and a several miles deep had been ripped up and tossed into the sky. With that act of violence, the ecology of the entire planet had completely transformed. Deep things never meant to see the light of day, all thrown up into the atmosphere and across the land. Exotic materials that in small quantities had made Jedha a mystical, holy world, had smothered the landscape. It had over the decades been absorbed by the life here and turned it into something strange.

    As we rode, I swear I could hear the creatures of the desert. The way they felt as they stalked their prey, and also the prey’s fear as it hid where it thought it might be safe. The panic of small marsupial mice as they skittered out of the way of these long striding spamels. The growing irritation and exhaustion that these spamels felt with this long night journey.

    The emotions of the desert were subtly mixing with my own.

    The sky had become lighter. The first reds and purples of sunrise. Our destination glowed a deep ruby red ahead of us. The high wind carved basalt walls of Abu Khashaba Canyon, littered with patches of a luminescent moss that we had already categorised as Styrincia Cavernius Kybericus. We would be within the canyons shadows by the time the sun had risen and the heat of the day became too oppressive.


    In the cooler shadows of the orange canyon walls, we slept the morning away. The spammels lay beside us with their long legs folded up in their complex multi-jointed way.

    I dreamt of being home, in comfort and safety, with a woman who loves me, who I wished would embrace me.
    “Food!”, she barked. “Get it! Get it!”. Her eyes grew enormous in anticipation, and out snapped her tongue to catch an ant.

    I awoke to see a small crystalline lizard wriggling across the sand. A Roughtail Rock Agama. Stellagama Stellio... Kybericus. They were getting into my dreams now.

    Baba Shad was already awake, looking at me. He had a campfire alight, and was boiling up a tea.

    We spent the day wandering through the canyon. I took holovids, wrote notes and collected samples of plant life which I carefully labeled in little bags and tucked away in my backpack.

    Baba would call “Here Mesahbib! Look!” and point into crevices to show me creatures hidden away.

    Long eared bats. Otonycteris Hemprichii Kybericus
    Marsupial mice. Myrmecobius fasciatus Kybericus
    Snakes with gliding wings. Naja annulifera Kybericus
    “Be careful Mesahbib! They will leap upon you from above!”

    All beautiful in their own ways. Unusually multi-colorful, with skins that seemed to be in the process of becoming more encrusted with glittering crystals, and all whispering their animal urges to anyone who would listen.


    As the sun set and the shadows grew longer, Baba said “Mesahbib, there is one special place I must show you. Come. This way. This way.”
    He led me further into the canyon. We scrambled up rocks. As with the other desert animals, I could feel the mood around him. He was trying to project a simple enthusiasm, but there was an undercurrent of nervousness to him. There was a serious, perhaps dangerous, purpose to this.

    We entered a cave carved out of the rock by millenia of winds whirling around the canyon. Inside were the black ashes of an old fire, an old water bladder, discarded clothing. The remains of an untidily abandoned campsite. Baba had obviously spent time here before.
    At the back of the cave a single red and black desert wildflower sat planted in the sands.

    Old Baba pointed his hand at the flower with a slightly unhinged smile on his face.
    “Mesahbib. This is The Heart’s Desire.”

    I nodded. Fair enough. It was a fairly pretty little flower. Unusual long deep red petals with a solid black pistil. Low to the ground with a thick furry grey-green stem and looking rather hardy, as desert blooms generally do, but was it worth an expedition across a desert plain at night?

    Baba could see the polite lack of enthusiasm in my face. I was still trying to figure out his motivation for coming here.
    “Ah. No. You see… Come closer Mesahbib. Please Sir. Yes. Closer”

    I had the distinct feeling that I was being coerced into a trap of some sort. But I took a step forward, and Baba started to sing.

    “Sleep little baby, rest my child,
    Wrapped up in the skins of a Lahrez hide.”

    Emotion was welling up in Baba’s sun leathered face as he looked at the flower. The silver veins in his face seemed to glow a little more. Were those tears in this hard man’s eyes?

    Confused, I looked back at the little red plant. It’s black center caught my attention. It made me feel like… Clara? What an odd thought to have at this moment. Clara was a fellow Biology lecturer back at Republic University on Hosnian Prime. The woman in my dream. I felt that she was here. I felt the exact mix of excitement, happiness, shyness, arousal I would feel when she walked by in the university hallway. I swear I could smell her hair or, perhaps, the feeling that the smell gave me. My body insisted that she was here while my head knew that was nonsense.

    Though I had never said it out loud, even to myself, this flower saw into my heart. It lied and it told the truth. She was my heart's desire.

    The nomad sat down by the campfire and began arranging sticks. Some dried leaves and twigs underneath.

    “Do you see, Mesahbib? Do you feel her? I felt your dream.” the nomad struck two rocks together, making sparks. A few attempts, and the kindling caught flame.

    The fire gained strength as he fed in more sticks.
    “Blood of my blood. My beating heart. I have missed you, my Aifa.”

    “Who do you see?” I asked. “You know… you know it’s not real.”

    “This is my daughter. Sweet little Aifa.” He sighed deeply. “Aifa, is dead.”
    “She died after the City was destroyed. She went pale, she became weak.”
    He was silent for a moment.
    “She died. I know.”

    The radiation from the Death Star weapon...

    “I wish I could hug him.” whispered Clara. She has such a good heart.

    “I have a confession.” said Baba. “Aifa, please my child, let me speak to the man for a moment.”
    I sat cross legged on the sand beside him.

    “I had travelled to Haifa Station where I met you to try and escape my child. I have done this many times before. Every time I am certain that this time I can finally be free. But every time she calls for me. I can hear her cry with the pain of her sickness. And my family. My real living family. They beg me to come home. They need me. But… she… my daughter. Aifa is dead, but she always calls me back, and I am not strong enough. I am weak with love for her.”

    I could feel Clara weeping for him. I wanted to hug her.

    “Then I saw you at the market asking for a guide. And you did not have the face of the desert.” He ran a finger along a silver vein on his cheek. “You are not of this land. Perhaps you are not a slave to this land the way that we are. So I brought you here.”

    Together we sat by the fire, feeling the love of those far away.

    After a few minutes of silence and inner turmoil he took a deep breath and abruptly said,
    “I need you to kill my daughter.”

    I knew what he meant. He wanted me to destroy the flower.

    Clara’s anger immediately rippled through me. “Would you kill me? I love you! Murderer! AHH!” She screamed!

    “But.. but you are not real! You're not her. You’re just a trick! A lie!”

    “You fool! She doesn’t love you. She barely knows you exist.”
    Her wrath made me want to get up and run. The fear of earning Clara’s contempt had been strong in me for years. I often would avoid walking near her around the university so as not to be a fool in front of her. And this journey to Jedha was subconsciously driven by the need for her admiration. Yes. I can admit that to myself now. So I can be seen as a brave adventurer.

    “But I love you.”
    I felt the love pour forth from the little red desert flower. The precise flavour of love that I had wished for these past years.

    I reached into the campfire and pulled out a burning stick.

    Baba cried and pull out his knife, shaking with murder in his eyes.
    “No! I am sorry Aifa. I am sorry.”
    But he hesitated, resisted, as his veins glowed bright.

    I set the flower on fire.


    The ride back to Haifa Station was quiet.
    The voices of the desert mocked and teased me, but I took no notice.

    At the spaceport, Baba and I parted company.
    I paid him his fee, and he rode off on his Spammel. I hope that he finally returned to his living family.

    And I flew home to Clara.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2020
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  3. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    WOW! :eek: Holy cow, you really took that "uncanny" prompt and ran with it, and I am so glad you did! (Because, for one thing, if I have it right, this was the story you were debating about whether to share here!)

    This really does go into some incredibly uncanny territory, with the gradual blurring between the real and the imagined brought on by the influence of the Heart's Desire flower. In a way, it's reassuring to see that the Force is still so strong in some form on NiJedha, even after the destruction wrought by the Death Star--and yet, perhaps fittingly, it's a very uncanny form that probes both the Force's weirdest depths and its victims' (!) deepest desires. And it packs all the more of a punch given the protagonist's empirical, scientific temperament and eagerness to classify everything, especially when the protagonist seems to merge with the beloved Clara under the flower's influence! But part and parcel of that is that the protagonist, at that last critical moment, finally learns of the real Clara's, heart's desire too. Thus, even though the flower gets destroyed, the new flower of this newly acknowledged love can grow, once the protagonist returns home. (Gee, I hope that made sense!)

    Absolutely fantastic work, as always. You have a real knack for taking any and all prompts you receive into truly amazing dimensions! =D=
    Oddly_Salacious and GregMcP like this.
  4. GregMcP

    GregMcP Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 7, 2015
    That wasn't the gruesome story I had doubts with. That's still packed away.

    But it took a while to come to grips with what to do with this flower.

    I'm glad it made some sort of sense to you.
    Oddly_Salacious and Findswoman like this.
  5. Oddly_Salacious

    Oddly_Salacious Jedi Master star 1

    Dec 5, 2005
    Beautiful, even the assassin's subtle knife: I will leave that to the Astrophysicists back at the University to decide.
    I take comparisons to authors' works as compliments, and I hope you will, too. There were moments here that recalled imagery from Teot's War by Heather Gladney. Bonus points for that, my friend.
    Findswoman and GregMcP like this.